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Baloucoune and Timoney's fine Ulster form rewarded with first Ireland call-ups but Lowry and Hume omitted


Ulster's Nick Timoney makes a break against Connacht (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

Ulster's Nick Timoney makes a break against Connacht (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ulster's Nick Timoney makes a break against Connacht (INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

Ulster duo Robert Baloucoune and Nick Timoney could make their Ireland debuts this summer after being called up to the Ireland squad for next month's Summer Tests against Japan and USA.

However, there was disappointing news for young Ulster duo James Hume and Michael Lowry who, despite excellent campaigns for the province, were not included in the 37-man panel.

In total, eight Ulster players have been called up to the squad by Andy Farrell, with tighthead prop Tom O'Toole also in line for his first cap having been called up to multiple squads but not having featured thus far.

Ireland regulars Rob Herring and Jacob Stockdale are also in an experimental squad named by Farrell - with veterans Keith Earls, Cian Healy and Jonathan Sexton left out - while Will Addison, Billy Burns and Stuart McCloskey are also included.

Other notable Ulster omissions include scrum-half John Cooney and loosehead prop Eric O'Sullivan, who are both injured, while second row Kieran Treadwell, who had been name-checked as a potential call-up by head coach Dan McFarland, is also excluded.

In total, Farrell has named 11 uncapped players in his squad, which will be captained by Leinster lock James Ryan, as he goes with a young side to give players experience while some of their bigger names are absent due to the British and Irish Lions tour.

Along with Baloucoune and Timoney, there will be excitement surrounding call-ups for Munster No.8 Gavin Coombes and Leinster fly-half Harry Byrne, both of whom are seen as superstars of the future.

However, the biggest shock will be that Hume is not included, the young centre surprisingly left out despite an excellent campaign for Ulster, in which he was named Young Player of the Year and led them to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.

Instead, Farrell has handed a first call-up to another centre, Connacht's Tom Daly, and has stuck with the trio of former Ulsterman Chris Farrell, Garry Ringrose and Hume's Ulster team-mate McCloskey in the midfield.

Lowry's absence is also notable after stepping into the full-back jersey for Ulster this season and performing superbly, while his versatility at playing fly-half was also seen as a positive, but he has not been called up on this occasion.

Baloucoune will be competing with Ulster team-mate Stockdale, along with Munster pair Andrew Conway and Shane Daly and Leinster duo Hugo Keenan and Jordan Larmour, for game-time in the back-three.

Meanwhile, Timoney will likely be deployed at No.8 and therefore will face stiff competition from fellow uncapped players Coombes and Connacht's Paul Boyle, as well as Leinster's Caelan Doris for a start.

It's a familiar picture for Herring at hooker, where he will battle with Connacht's Dave Heffernan and Leinster's Ronan Kelleher - who is training with the Lions this week - for minutes, while fly-half Burns has the uncapped Byrne and Munster's Joey Carbery for company.

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After playing the role of the third tighthead for the last few squads, O'Toole will likely be the starter in the No.3 jersey this summer but will need to impress to hold off Connacht's Finlay Bealham and Munster's John Ryan.

Meanwhile, Addison will miss the first Test against Japan as he serves the final game of a four-match ban, but will come back into the mix for the USA clash and will likely be deployed at either centre or full-back.

“We now have two games at home to focus on which will be a good challenge for the group," commented Ireland head coach Farrell.

"Japan played the Sunwolves at the weekend and will play the Lions the week before we play at the Aviva Stadium and we know the quality of their squad from the World Cup. We will assemble as a squad on the 22nd June and begin our preparations for the two games.

"I know the players will come in eager to make the most of this opportunity to pull on the green jersey and play in front of supporters for at the Aviva Stadium for the first time in 18 months.

"Johnny (Sexton), Cian (Healy) and Keith (Earls) will not be involved in this window as we grow the experience of other players. It will be a great opportunity to see can this group perform at this level.”

Ireland face Japan on Saturday, July 3 before taking on USA a week later on July 10, with both games being played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Ireland squad for Tests against Japan and USA

Loosehead props: Ed Byrne (Leinster), Peter Dooley* (Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)

Hookers: Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Rob Herring (Ulster), Ronan Kelleher (Leinster)

Tighthead props: Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Tom O'Toole* (Ulster), John Ryan (Munster)

Locks: Ryan Baird (Leinster), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Ross Molony* (Leinster), James Ryan (captain, Leinster), Fineen Wycherley* (Munster)

Back row: Paul Boyle* (Connacht), Gavin Coombes* (Munster), Caelan Doris (Leinster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Nick Timoney* (Ulster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster)

Scrum-halves: Caolin Blade* (Connacht), Craig Casey (Munster), Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster)

Fly-halves: Billy Burns (Ulster), Harry Byrne* (Leinster), Joey Carbery (Munster)

Centres: Will Addison (Ulster), Tom Daly* (Connacht), Chris Farrell (Munster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster)

Back three: Robert Baloucoune* (Ulster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Shane Daly (Munster), Hugo Keenan (Leinster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)

* - denotes uncapped player

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